This one's worth checking out.

This one’s worth checking out.

Sweet film; disagreeable demographic choice.

Sweet film; disagreeable demographic choice.

As an idea, I don’t know what’s so special about Zootopia. The pitch for this movie, the next installment in Disney’s beloved Animated Canon, is that it shows you a world where the animals behave like humans. It doesn’t sound all too original on its own, but that’s not what got people excited either. What got people excited was that, allegedly, this was Disney’s first furry movie, meaning there’d finally be a Disney film for people who are turned on by wearing animal costumes and whose ideal mate is a cartoon fox with tits to enjoy this year. First of all: ew. Second of all: Disney have made movies featuring anthropomorphic animals for ages, so not only is there nothing conceptually interesting about the film, but the reason you think so is, in mild terms, fucking disturbing.

Hopps, Nick, and Flash the sloth.

Hopps, Nick, and Flash the sloth.

Zootopia, known as Zootropolis in Europe for reasons undiscernable, isn’t by any means awful. It’s very funny, very sweet, and very energetic. The problem is that the core idea isn’t as groundbreaking as advertised, though I will take this over Chicken Little any day. It’s still not the company’s next Wreck-It Ralph but we cannot demand miracles to occur all too frequently.

What the film does have a lot of, in spite of it all, is a lot of creativity in how this particular anthropomorphic world is constructed. For one, all the animals are to scale and the city in which they reside, Zootopia, has been built in such a way that it accommodates all mammals of all sizes perfectly. The rodents get little mini-cities, smaller animals travel on separate lanes, et cetera. It also touches on the subject of racism, often too blatantly but usually cleverly. Predators and carnivores have always been dominant whereas the “prey” animals are depicted as oppressed. It might have been funnier if the prejudice and segregation was based on something else. I would have laughed if we learned that no pandas or panthers were nominated for Oscars in this universe.

Our hero is a bunny who’s also a cop, Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), and she’s about as adorable as they come – but be careful with how you use that word around her. She encounters a sneaky con-artist fox named Nick (Jason Bateman), who looks and sounds a little too much like the main character in Fantastic Mr. Fox for me not to resume my mindset that this movie isn’t as original as people think. They’re forced to work together to uncover a mysterious conspiracy, running into creatures voiced by the likes of J.K. Simmons, Idris Elba, Tommy Chong, Octavia Spencer, Jenny Slate, and for some mystifying reason, Shakira along the way. Of all the excuses you could have gone with to shove a catchy pop song in there…

zootopia 3The voice work ranges from good to passable and the character designs are fun all the way – miles better than Pixar’s latest outing The Good Dinosaur, in which almost everything looked the same. It’s just a little sad to me that trained voice actors such as Maurice LaMarche and John DiMaggio are given bit parts while all the main roles are given to actors with more marquee value, despite them being more at home with acting in front of a camera. This isn’t so much an issue I have with Zootopia as it is an issue with animated films in general.

Visually, it’s as wonderful to look at as Disney films always are. Outside of the already-discussed layout of Zootopia itself, the lighting and the textures are all first-rate. I liked the way the clothing moved too, but that aspect didn’t wow me quite as much as it did in, say, 2011’s Rango (in which spiders are the same size as foxes but armadillos are giant so Zootopia did that one better at least).

The movie does have a share of laughs when it comes to the way these animals work and co-exist in the titular city. The best scene might be the one that you’ve all probably seen already; in which Hopps is forced to deal with a DMV employee who happens to be a not too speedy sloth. We Swedes got to see that particular clip as part of the annual Disney hour this Christmas, which is a real tradition that exists, and I knew the film couldn’t be all bad. No matter which demographic writes the fan fiction about it later.

And indeed, Zootopia isn’t all bad. Sure it sometimes goes by the checklist and utilizes such tiresome “buddy cop” movie tropes as The Third Act Misunderstanding – also popular in romantic comedies, or just romance films in general. I, however, had no problem enjoying the film as a whole, and I’m confident in its capacity to become well-liked by both children and adults. Or people who are a little bit of both.

I’ve posted a trailer below as usual. Note that the fox starts off not wearing any clothes and that he’s quickly embarrassed over this, thus the fact that all animals in this fictional world wear clothes must mean naked animals are regarded the same way as naked humans are in our world. Between this and scenes in the film that involve a “nudist society” and a duo of muscular tigers dancing like Magic Mike, I think I’m beginning to see what got all those furries interested after all. So my final rating is 3.5/5, but be careful with which screening you and your kids attend, lest you be seated next to a grown man in a wolf suit who starts howling at the screen once it gets too erotic. And yes, that happened.

3.5/5 whatever